By Davey Wavey
Of all the cities that I’ve ever visited, few feel as much like home as Toronto. Maybe it’s because, between my dozen or so trips to Toronto, I’ve spent a collective two years of my life here. Or maybe it’s because, in stark contrast to the chilly, dull weather, Torontonians are some of the warmest, friendliest and most colorful people that I’ve ever met.
Whether it’s partaking in the city’s annual Pride festival (which is one of the largest in the world), climbing the 147-floor CN tower, exploring Toronto’s epic ethnic neighborhoods, sunbathing on the gay (and nude) beach or kayaking in the city’s surrounding rivers, I feel like I’ve experienced much of what the city has to offer.
That is, except for the bathhouse.
Though I’ve always recognized bathhouses as part of our gay culture, I’ve found them more intriguing than alluring. In a way, I think of bathhouses in the same way that I view newspapers or libraries. That is, as causalities of the Internet. Why would I trek to a bathhouse when I can get the same thing from my iPhone? Seriously.
But alas, two summers ago, my curiosity finally got the best of me—and, as I wrote about in this blog before, I visited my first bathhouse while vacationing in Manhattan. I enlisted the help of a friend and fellow bathhouse-virgin, and we made a YouTube video about our experience.
To make a long story short, the bathhouse visit was both underwhelming and—considering we were solicited as prostitutes by the patrons—a bit traumatic.
Though I was happy to hang up my towel, it wasn’t meant to be. Since filming the bathhouse video (which now has nearly half a million views), I’ve heard a steady clamoring of requests for a sequel. “Give bathhouses a second chance,” I’ve been told. “No,” I’ve always replied.
Last Thursday, while on vacation in Toronto, I finally caved. At the very least, I knew it would make for another great video—and so one of my Canadian friends and I ventured to the local bathhouse.
Unbeknownst to us, it was “lights out” night at the bathhouse—which means exactly what the name implies. Guided only by the beams of our flashlights, I saw many, many things—none of which I’m able to repeat here with any degree of tastefulness or tact.
The darkness doesn’t hide everything. At one point, I heard a bathhouse patron call out from the shadows, “Davey? Davey… Wavey?” Alas, it was an Australian fan on holiday. Huddled together in the dimness, he pulled out a camera so that he could “show his mates back home.” A true Kodak moment.
While the Toronto bathhouse was a marked improvement—especially in terms of the facilities (which seemed quite clean and included a full gym)—I’ve come to the conclusion that bathhouses just aren’t for me. At the end of the day, I need more than a flashlight to determine if someone is a good match for me. At the very least, a Facebook profile. Moreover, I’m too cheap and lazy to pay the $18 entrance fee or to get off my couch on a cold fall night.
That’s what Grindr is for.
To get a full debriefing my bathhouse experience, tune in to the Davey Wavey YouTube channel this Thursday, September 27.